No Love Lost Between Health Secy & AIDS Patients
New Delhi, October 8: HIV-AIDS patients have been left in the lurch due to non-availability of drugs. Health experts impute this scarcity on Union Health Secretary Love Verma reluctance to avert the impending crisis. Experts have demanded removal of health secretary forthwith for failing to address severe shortage of HIV-AIDS drugs.
Rajendra Pratap Gupta, president, Disease Management Association of India (DMAI) and pioneer of campaign for patients’ rights in India, while talking to Meditoall, said, ‘Recently, there has been wide spread talk about India failing to take care of the needs of HIV/AIDS patients. Time and again, this has happened for TB patents as well. This is nothing short of mass killing of vulnerable people! I request the Health Minister to immediately remove the Heath Secretary and the officials responsible for this failure. No one can be allowed to play with the lives of people.’ Efforts to contact love Verma on this issue went unheeded.
India’s free HIV/AIDS drugs program is said to be at the brink of collapse. It has been about a month since more than 150,000 patients are not getting life-saving drugs. It is imputed on severe lapse of administration presided over by Union Health Secretary Love Verma. It is alleged that lack of any action to ward off this eventuality from the health secretary has put the life of thousands of vulnerable patients to risk. Drugs being expensive, the government provides about one third of India’s 2.1 million HIV/AIDS patients with free antiretroviral (ART) drugs.
The Union Health Ministry had been warned of this impending scarcity by NACO (National AIDS Control Organization) and other related organizations long before but it fell on deaf ears. It has been warned that India could run out of a critical medicine in its free HIV/AIDS drugs programme in three weeks but nothing moved. Experts say that missed dosages for long durations can increase patients’ drug resistance and result in faster spread of the virus, while changes in medication regimens expose patients to side effects.
This state of affairs is sure to dent the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi globally. Delays in approving tenders for the procurement of the drugs have left the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) scrambling to secure supplies of tenofovir/lamivudine tablets that are prescribed to thousands of patients during initial stages of treatment. NACO has said this situation arose due to various bureaucratic hurdles. This has happened despite one legal notice to Love Verma regarding this impending crisis.